Social policy

Social policy

Social policy relates to guidelines for the changing, maintenance or creation of living conditions that are conducive to human welfare. Thus social policy is that part of public policy that has to do with social issues. Social policy aims to improve human welfare and to meet human needs for education, health, housing and social security. The Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy at Harvard University describes it as "public policy and practice in the areas of health care, human services, criminal justice, inequality, education, and labor" [web-page at, retrieved 15th July, 2008.] .

In an academic environment, London School of Economics professor Richard Titmuss is considered to have established Social Policy (or Social Administration) as an academic area of study. Many universities offer the subject for undergraduate and postgraduate study.

International Interpretations

In United States politics and in Canadian politics, social policies are those which regulate and govern human behavior in areas such as sexuality and general morality. Social policies are in contrast to other, more traditional forms of political policy, such as foreign policy and economic policy. Modern-day social policies may deal with the following issues:
* abortion, and the regulation of its practice
* the legal status of euthanasia
* the rules surrounding issues of marriage, divorce, and adoption
* poverty, welfare, and homelessness and how it is to deal with these issues
* the legal status of recreational drugs
* the legal status of prostitution

Social policy may be influenced by religion and the religious beliefs of politicians. Political conservatives as a whole generally favor a more traditionalist approach that favors individual initiative and private enterprise in social policy. Political liberals, on the other hand favor the guarantee of equal rights and entitlements to all people and tend to favor state regulation or insurance to support this.

In Europe, social policy usually refers to policies affecting the social conditions under which people live. Important areas of social policy in these countries are:
* Health insurance
* Accident insurance
* Unemployment insurance
* Retirement insurance
* Labour regulation
* Education

Social policy often deals with issues which Rittle & Webber (1973) called wicked problems.

ee also

* Socio-economics
* Program evaluation
* Social Protection


Rittel, H. & Webber, M. (1973). Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning. "Policy Sci" 4:155-169.


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